The UFC every July 4th weekend looks to put on a big show and this past weekend was no exception. Lets take a look back at Saturday night's big fights:
UFC Bantamweight Championship: Dominick Cruz vs. Urijah Faber
Result: Cruz via Unanimous Decision
This fight was fast-paced and for all five round both guys put on a show. The difference was Faber's inability to takedown Cruz and Cruz outstriking Faber in every round.
Next for Cruz: There is some debate about who the next real number one contender is right now in the UFC 135 pound division. Demetrious Johnson is on a four fight win streak and his last fight was a action-packed win over former WEC bantamweight champ Miguel Torres. Meanwhile, Brian Bowles has won two straight fights since he lost the belt to Cruz back in early 2010. It will be interesting to see which fighter the UFC brass picks to take on Cruz next. My choice is Johnson because his overall skills along with his speed present the biggest threat to Cruz at 135 right now.
Next for Faber: Since Faber put on a good fight for five rounds typically the UFC will not drop him too far down the ladder in terms of rankings. Scott Jorgenson, another former number one contender at 135 pounds, would be an interesting fight for Faber and would keep him in the running to get another shot at the belt sooner then later.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Chris Leben
Result: Leben via Knockout
Chris Leben said before this matchup that both men were going to throw until someone falls. Fortunately for Leben it was Silva who fell and Leben walked away with a KO win after nailing "The Axe Murder" with a couple hard upper cuts.
Next for Leben: "The Crippler" seems to always be in an exciting fight. He has won four of his last five fights and the last three wins have all been via stoppage. Problem for Leben is that he has been in the UFC so long he has faced many of the fighters at 185 pounds who would be considered top 15 competition. The only fighter currently on a winning streak who seems ready to face a guy like Leben would be Chris Weidman.
Next for Silva: The fact that Silva got knocked out Saturday night is not as much about him "losing his chin" but the issue that he had not faught in almost 17 months. Since he was brutally knockedout by Quinton Jackson in December of 2008 he has only had three fights and he has one win. Wanderlei may be coming to the end of his career yet I'm not sure he is ready to walk away from MMA just yet. If Yoshihiro Akiyama losses at UFC 133 then a "Axe Murderer" vs. "Sexyama" fight would make sense for both men at this stage of their careers.
Dennis Siver vs. Matt Wiman
Result: Siver via Unanimous Decision
This was the fight that I considered the most bizarre of the night. Wiman spent more time trying to takedown Siver then anything else in the fight. Siver was successful in stopping the takedowns but that didn't deter Wiman from trying still. Most people had Siver winning the 1st round and Wiman taking the 2nd round. The 3rd was about perspective since neither fighter really dominated the final round. So when you leave it up to the judges score cards, anything can happen.
Next for Siver: Siver has now won four straight fights and since January of 2009 he is 7-1 in the UFC. His all-round MMA game has improved while his opponents are running out of ways to beat him. A fight with either Anthony Pettis or Gleison Tibau would be an interesting test for Siver.
Next for Wiman: Wiman clearly thought he had won the fight on Saturday night and went as far as throwing his hat down and storming out of the octagon after the judges decision was announced. Three of Wiman's four UFC losses have been by decision so one would think he would understand the conscequences of not finishing a fight. Either way, Wiman's winning streak is gone and has to take a step back in the crowded UFC lightweight division ranks. A fight with another guy who lost on the UFC 132 card would be right for Wiman right now: Shane Roller.
Tito Ortiz vs. Ryan Bader
Result: Ortiz via Submission (Guillotine Choke)
Supposedly Ryan Bader was a 8-1 favorite in his matchup with Tito Ortiz. Ortiz had lost three straight fights and the "experts" thought that Ortiz was done. But people forget Tito is a former UFC champion and Saturday night he showed that he is not ready to retire anytime soon. He looked better then Bader in the striking department and after Ortiz nailed Bader with a straight right the former champ jumped on his favored opponent and sunk in a deep choke to finish the fight.
Next for Ortiz: A big win like this for Ortiz gives him many options for his next matchup. Tito has said in the past he likes to take on top level competition yet most of that competition in the UFC at 205 pounds is booked over the next few UFC events. Maybe he could get the loser of Evans-Davis, Franklin-Nogueria, or Griffin-Rua. Or maybe someone from Strikeforce will get their contract re-written like Nick Diaz did and come over to have their first fight of the new UFC contract against Tito Ortiz (who knows).
Next for Bader: Before 2011 Ryan Bader had never lost a fight in his MMA career. Now he has lost to the current UFC Light Heavyweight Champ (Jon Jones) and a former UFC champion (Tito Ortiz). Bader went from being top 10 at 205 in the UFC to middle of the pack. Maybe its time to match him up Krzysztof Soszynski to see if Bader can get back on track against someone who has won three of his last five fights.
Carlos Condit vs. Dong Hyun Kim
Result: Condit via Knockout (Flying Knee)
After his win over Nate Diaz, Dong Hyun Kim called out UFC Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre. Instead he got to face the former WEC Welterweight Champ Carlos Condit. Kim said before the fight that Condit was "overrated" and that when he wins he wanted next shot at GSP. After a fast first round knockout, I think Kim just got knocked back to reality.
Next for Condit: After two close Split Decisions to start his UFC career, Condit has reeled off three straight wins in which he finished his opponents. People seem to forget that Condit defended the WEC Welterweight belt three times and while in the WEC he stopped all of his opponents either by submission or knockout. While Condit has a case to be next in line for a shot at the belt, it is unlikely he will sit around and wait until the winner of St. Pierre-Diaz is ready to fight again. If Diego Sanchez beats Matt Hughes in September then a Condit-Sanchez fight would make sense for Condit if he doesn't want to wait around for a title shot.
Next for Kim: The loss to Condit is the first official loss of Kim's MMA career. Often criticed for his style of taking guys down but not doing much else while in a dominant position, Kim still has some evolving to do if he intends on making a run to become a number one contender in the UFC. Maybe a fight with someone who is hard to takedown (like Josh Koscheck) would force him to learn some other techniques aside from same old he has been using lately.
Quick thoughts on some Preliminary Card Fights
Melvin Guillard vs. Shane Roller: With his knockout of Shane Roller, Guillard has now won five straight fights and gotten his hand raised in eight of his last nine fights. Guillard is quickly setting himself apart from the rest of the 155 pount division. Guillard has said in the past that he wants to fight Jim Miller, yet Miller is booked to fight in August against Ben Henderson. Guillard also said Saturday night he wants to fight at the UFC 136 event in Houston. There are only two guys high in the lightweight ranks in the UFC who would be available to fight in October: Clay Guida (who is a teammate of Guillard's at Jackson MMA) and former UFC Lightweight Champ Sean Sherk (who has stated on Twitter he would like to come back to the UFC this fall after recovering from injury issues).
George Sotiropoulos vs. Rafael dos Anjos: Before 2011, George Sotiropoulos was the winner of nine straight fights and was considered to be in the mix as a contender at 155 pounds. Now after two straight losses George has lost all mommentum and all of the praise about his "great boxing skills" evaporated with a wild first round KO at the hands of Dos Anjos. Ironically, its the first knockout victory of Dos Anjos' career.